To be forewarned is to be forearmed

Bruce Maclean / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
US bombing during the Vietnam war. Reuters

It goes without saying that a number of Western countries are in the business of regime change. It is usually the same Western countries engaging in regime change and for the sake of simplicity I would like to call this group of Western countries “The West”.

The West has used a number of strategies to accomplish regime change, such as direct military aggression, bribery, covert operations, and propaganda. I would like to focus on two of these strategies briefly, covert operations and colour revolutions, and a third new and developing strategy in depth. Again, for the sake of simplicity, I will label the third strategy the “sports attack” strategy.

I am not going to detail the long history of The West using covert operations to change foreign governments. I will remind people that the Kingdom of Cambodia has been the target of covert operations in the past; specifically, the Western backed coup that overthrew the government of King Sihanouk and installed Lon Nol into power. There have been many other incidents, well-documented and evidenced.

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During the 1970s many of these covert operations were exposed and publicised, resulting in public outcry and condemnation. This public condemnation became so great that the CIA in the US was threatened with being disbanded. In response, the CIA decided to curtail, but not discard, its covert operations. The CIA developed a new, more sanitized, regime change strategy, and “farmed out” this new strategy to the newly created National Endowment for Democracy. For the sake of simplicity I will call this new strategy the “colour revolution” strategy.

The covert operation strategy and the colour revolution strategy have the same goal: regime change. The two strategies differ in tactics. A covert operation may consist in arming and training a foreign rebel group to fight a foreign government on the battlefield, whereas a colour revolution operation may consist in arming and training a foreign political party to fight a foreign government in the political arena.

Same goal, different strategies. The colour revolutions strategy is just a more sanitized, more socially acceptable, regime change strategy. (More deniable too, I might add.)

The colour revolution strategy has had some limited success. Ukraine comes to mind in the sense that a colour revolution resulted in a regime change, although it is difficult to call Ukraine a “success” in any other sense of the word. The colour revolution strategy also resulted in a regime change in Thailand, although the Thai military subsequently ousted the resulting government. Color revolutions have been thwarted most effectively in the Russian Federation and most recently in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Not a great track record but I doubt if The West will discard that strategy. So it’s time to develop yet another regime change strategy to augment The West’s arsenal of strategies.

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So The West is developing what I call the “sports attack” strategy.

Please forgive me for my vague understanding of the new strategy, but it functions something like this. The target country has a national sports team that is achieving great success. The team qualifies to enter a highly publicised and prestigious international competition. The public in the target country becomes enthusiastic and filled with national pride. Just before the event, a scandal occurs in the target country; perhaps a tragedy befalls on a respected human rights activist.

The West immediately begins a propaganda campaign blaming the government of the target country for the tragedy. The West then arranges for the target country’s sports team to be sanctioned from competing in the competition. The public in the target country becomes deeply disappointed and frustrated. The West then tells the public their disappointment and frustration has been caused by the terrible behaviour of their government and the solution is to change their government.

That is the theory behind a “sports attack” strategy used to achieve a regime change in the target country.

The West has used this strategy in the recent past and is using it as I write this piece.

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A scandal has recently broken out in the UK: an ex-spy and his daughter have been poisoned, allegedly. The West immediately blamed the government of the Russian Federation. The West then stated that its officials will not be attending the 2018 FIFA World Cup scheduled to take place in Russia.

I have no doubt that The West will soon be calling for a blanket boycott of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The West will then imply that any disappointment and frustration has been caused by the Russian government and that the solution is for the Russian people to change the government. All of this is being done with a few highly publicised statements, without providing one shred of evidence to support these bizarre claims.

It is a very cost effective strategy that can be applied to not only a sports event, but also a performing arts event, or any other entertainment event.

Suppose a highly talented Apsara dance troupe from Cambodia is invited to perform at a prestigious international venue. That would be a situation vulnerable to an attack of this form. I am not suggesting that Cambodia should not participate in international sports events or performing arts events. I am not suggesting that at all.

I am saying the The West is targeting Cambodia for regime change, and I am forewarning that The West will be watching for any opportunity to apply its new regime change strategy, and I am suggesting that Cambodia can forearm itself by maintaining a vigilant awareness of this. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Bruce Maclean

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